THE COVID-19 pandemic has wrought more than its share of havoc on communities across the globe and brought more than its share of devastation.
But as hopes grow that effective vaccines might soon be available, we can now not only look forward to the day this pandemic is (hopefully) finally behind us but also at some of the silver linings that this year like no other has produced.
Our changing attitudes to flexibility in the workplace have been a definite positive, as has been the way the pandemic has forced us to confront - and start to remedy - the reality of educational inequities in our country.
And some commentators are now speculating that another unexpected winner from the pandemic might be those local shopping strips whose days have appeared numbered for some years now.
The theory goes that travel limits placed on residents during the worst of the lockdowns, and particularly in the major cities, have forced us to rethink how we shop.
For some months, people living in the suburbs of Melbourne were banned from travelling into the city's major shopping districts and instead had to return to the shops just up the road.
Residents in Sydney's outer suburbs did not face the same 5km travel limit as their Melbourne counterparts but the need for social distancing and a desire to avoid crowds where possible meant many of them also returned to shopping strips closer to home.
On top of that, when millions of people were working from home across the country there were far fewer trips into town and, again, the local shopping strips were among those to benefit.
It's a slightly different story here in Bathurst because our CBD is our local shopping strip, but even shops here must have seen some benefit from fewer residents planning a trip to Sydney for a day of spending.
It's not all good news, of course. Working against all that is the continuing threat to local stores of online shopping, which has also boomed during lockdown.
But as we start our Christmas shopping, it's worth reminding people of the good things that can come from shopping locally.
Spending money in town keeps money in town and helps local businesses employ local people.
And that means you're getting real bang for your buck.
What do you think?
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